Underline Coffee — 75.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Underline Coffee is located by the 20th Street entrance to the High Line in West Chelsea.  The attractive space was busy during our early afternoon visit.  While the crowd was mostly quiet, once again we were assaulted by music that was too loud.  There were the usual coffee-making sounds, but they weren’t that bad.  No, it was just the music.  Had the volume been lowered one or two notches, the space could have been comfortable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Still, there aren’t many other options in the immediate location, and the coffee was good, so you could do worse.  With luck, perhaps whoever is working that day may show some restraint.  The noise level wasn’t awful, but that shouldn’t be the measure.  Underline Coffee is tolerable, but it could be far more.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (close at 6:00 p.m. in winter)

Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 10th and 11th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Underline Coffee

 

Telegraphe Cafe — 75.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Telegraph Cafe was fairly busy during our visit, but despite being completely full it was comfortable.  It’s a small space with a handful of tightly packed tables to the right of the entrance and stools lining the counter and the front windows.  Despite having a large glassed front, the sound level was manageable.  We assume that window shades, which had been drawn halfway down, helped to absorb or deflect the sound.

Music was playing during part of visit, but the volume was low so it didn’t add much to the soundscape.  All told, given how crowded the space was, we were quite happy with the sound level and would gladly return.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Telegraphe Cafe offers breakfast and lunch items and well made coffees.  In an neighborhood that offers few comfortable options, Telegraphe Cafe is worth visiting.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 6th and 7th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Telegraphe Cafe

Shorty Tang Noodles — 76.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Short Tang Noodles is an homage to its namesake, who is credited with introducing cold sesame noodles to New York City.  According to Grub Street, Shorty Tang’s cold sesame noodles were considered the best, and his son and grandson have opened a place as a tribute to him using his original recipe.  So of course we ordered the cold sesame noodles when we visited Short Tang’s for a lunch time nosh.

There are lots of hard surfaces at Shorty Tang’s–tile floors, a wall of glass in the front, tiled back wall, and a semi-open kitchen–but the place was tolerable because background music, though unnecessary, was playing at a low volume. Even though one front window was open to 8th Avenue, street noise didn’t contribute much to the soundscape. Maybe it was dumb luck, but 8th Avenue was surprisingly calm during our visit–there were no sirens or honking.  We must note that the restaurant wasn’t full while we were there, and it will naturally be louder if packed, but for a half full lunchtime visit it was perfectly fine.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

So how was the signature dish?  Pretty good, but not life changing.

Overall, the room leans toward live, with competing layers of noise, but it was tolerable at lunch time.  If crowded, it’s likely that the live space will be overwhelmed.  And be aware that voices carry here, so if there’s a screamer among the other patrons, you will hear them loud and clear.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 14th and 15th Street), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Shorty Tang Noodles

Empire Diner — 86.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Everything is wrong at the Empire Diner. Well, everything except the food, which was tasty. Every surface is hard, street noise from open windows let in the regular siren screams from racing ambulances, and loud dance music pulsates throughout the space, dominating the soundscape. Ouch!

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

And what a shame, as the food is really good, the space is attractive, and Empire Diner is a reminder of Chelsea’s not so distant past, when it was very gay and glam. Yes, Chelsea wasn’t very quiet back in the day, but we don’t recall racing through a meal to get out before our ears exploded, either.

That said, the main room and outdoor eating were uncomfortably loud, but there was a room further in the diner that was quiet.  It was also empty.  Unclear if it would remain quiet as it fills up with spill over from the main space.  So, sadly, we must suggest you avoid Empire Diner, unless, that is, you don’t mind dining while wearing noise-cancelling headphones.

HOURS

8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. every day

LOCATION

Avenue (at the corner of 22nd Street), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Empire Diner

Blossom Restaurant — 74.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Blossom Restaurant is one of three restaurants that make up a vegan restaurant chain in New York City (the other locations are in the West Village and the Upper West Side).  We ate at the Chelsea location, which offers vegan fine dining in an attractive space–something you don’t always find at vegan restaurants.

We arrived for a relatively early dinner, so not surprisingly the place was fairly quiet when we were seated.  In fact, we were the only table in the upstairs dining room at first, but the place filled up quickly.  The meter went up when the table for two next to us was seated, as one of the diners was quite loud.  Sadly, there is little you or the restaurant can do when a loud customer is placed near you.  That said, the background music could have been a bit lower, but it was tolerable.

Overall, the space was relatively comfortable, and, importantly, the food was very tasty.   If you need to find a restaurant to impress a vegan friend or colleague, Blossom should be high on your list.

HOURS

Lunch/brunch daily: 12:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Dinner Sunday: 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Dinner Monday through Thursday: 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Dinner Friday and Saturday: 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Blossom Restaurant

Peter McManus Cafe — 65.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

What a pleasant surprise we had when we ducked into the Peter McManus Cafe, an Irish pub located in Chelsea, for a quick midweek lunch.   The pub, which was founded in 1932,  has been in its current location since 1936.   We can vouch that it looks like very little has been done to the interior since that time (which we think is a good thing).  The cafe has a bar in the front that is lined with stools, with a few tables and two or three flat screen tvs playing the game du jour.  In the back there is a dining room that is open to the bar area, but somewhat shielded from bar noise.

When we arrived all the tvs were on in the bar and dining room, but only one tv in the bar had the volume turned on.  This was not a problem at all, as it could easily be heard by the patrons sitting at the bar but was merely a background hum in the dining area, where we had our meal. With a decibel reading of 65.3, this was one of the most peaceful lunches we have had in a long time.

There is no question that the place was so quiet because is wasn’t crowded. In fact, the bar was only half full and the dining room was mostly empty.  That said, we think lunches generally should be comfortable, particularly in the dining space.  Our suspicion was confirmed by our friendly and efficient waitress who said that lunches tend to be quiet unless there was a big game on tv.  She noted that the space tends to be louder at dinner, but added that the jukebox in the front did not play in the dining area.   And no surprise, she confirmed that the place will be packed and noisy anytime there is a big game.

Peter McManus Cafe felt more like a pub with food than a restaurant, but they turned out a very freshly made and tasty club sandwich.  There are at least a dozen beers on tap and another dozen in bottles, plus an extensive list of whiskies from around the world.   More importantly, the place felt like a real neighborhood bar, and it was clear that the patrons lining the bar were regulars.

If you want to enjoy a beer and a burger in relative peace, head on over to the Peter McManus Cafe.   Neighborhood bars are a real rarity in Manhattan.  Enjoy this one while it’s still around (just don’t come during the Superbowl).

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 am.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Peter McManus Cafe

Ridgeway Diner — 71.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Ridgeway Diner was at least half full when we visited.  It’s located on busy 6th Avenue, so we were concerned when we saw that the front door was open to the street. Our concern was mostly misplaced, as we didn’t hear much street traffic throughout the lion’s share of our meal.  The problem, however, was that ambulances raced by, sirens blaring, at least twice during our visit. This raised the decibel reading, which is an average over the period during which the reading was taken.  It’s hard to blame a restaurant owner for random noise over which he or she has no control, but on opening the door to the street one must assume that an emergency vehicle could pass by. That said, shutting the door may have saved only a decibel or two at best, as the sirens were so loud that they would surely have penetrated into the space even if the door was shut.

Sirens aside, the place was generally calm and relaxed. Why? No music.  Other than street noise, the soundscape of the place consisted mainly of voices,  even with an open service area and a window to the kitchen.  So, despite being in a noisy and busy part of the city, we were able to eat in relative comfort.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Ridgeway Diner is proof that not playing background music yields benefits, particularly for businesses on very busy city streets.  The food was decent diner fare and service was efficient.  There’s nothing particularly interesting or compelling about the place except that it’s hard to find a non-national chain restaurant option in this area, making this relaxed, old-school Greek diner a lucky find.  We recommend it.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 20th and 21st Streets), New York, NY 10010

WEBSITE

Ridgeway Diner

Cafe Grumpy (Chelsea) — 68.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were wandering around Chelsea and jonesing for a coffee when we spotted Cafe Grumpy.  We’ve read that it was known for good coffee, so we stopped in.  There was music playing a bit louder than we liked in the front of the space where you order, but as we soon discovered, the place is a lot bigger than it looks from the street.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

One thing we noticed immediately is that there weren’t many laptops visible.  Then we saw a sign by the cash register stating that the cafe is a “no laptop zone.”  When asked, the server told me they “aren’t Nazis about it” but they want to cultivate a “social place.”  Still, while I didn’t see laptops deployed on tables, I did see that most people were by themselves reading or writing.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Since the front of the space was louder than we liked, we went to down the long narrow corridor connecting the front to a back room that was noticeably quieter. We had our coffee in this space,  finding it basically calm though we could hear someone washing dishes in the nearby dish room. There are french doors at the very end of the space that open on to an absolutely serene garden.  How serene?  You can hear birdsong.

If you are in Chelsea and want a coffee and a really quiet space, go to Cafe Grumpy, avoid the front space,  walk to the back room, and don’t stop until you are in the garden. It was lovely. Sadly, the Xelerator hand dryer in bathroom is not.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Sunday: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 7th and 8th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Cafe Grumpy — Chelsea

 

Good Stuff Diner – 65.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

By Jeanine Botta

On a recent morning, I’d been running errands in Manhattan and decided to try the Good Stuff Diner on West 14th Street before heading home to Brooklyn.  I love diners and was drawn to the place’s gleaming retro design and warm tones.  A manager greeted me at the door and accommodated my request for a booth, which doesn’t always happen with solo diners.  I sat in the back among a mix of other solo diners, pairs, and groups.  Two men sat alone at separate tables eating breakfast and reading newspapers, then said goodbye to each other when one of them left.

It was just after 10:00 a.m. when I arrived, so it was somewhere between the end of the breakfast rush and the start of the lunch rush; around half of the tables were occupied in each dining area. I ordered eggs with toast and home fried potatoes, orange juice, and coffee.  All were good, and the service was fast and friendly, but not rushed.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There was no music playing in the back section of the diner while I was there.  The average sound level  was only 65.4, but the ambience wasn’t hushed.  The predominant sound was that of lively conversation.  It was only when I walked to the front of the diner as I was leaving that I heard music, but the music was playing softly in the background and didn’t distract.

The Good Stuff Diner is recommended to tourists and other travelers, as evidenced by online reviews.  But on this weekday morning I could tell by nearby conversations that many of the diners were locals, some were regulars, and most were New Yorkers, which says good things about the place.  Given the sound level when the restaurant was just over halfway occupied, I wouldn’t hesitate to schedule a meeting or meet up with friends during a busier time.  It was good to find an aesthetically appealing, affordable, friendly restaurant with a robust menu in a part of the city where I often find myself wishing for exactly this kind of eatery.

HOURS

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week

LOCATION

109 West 14th Street (near 6th Avenue), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Good Stuff Diner

Empire Diner — 86.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Everything is wrong at the Empire Diner. Well, everything except the food, which was tasty. Every surface is hard, street noise from open windows let in the regular siren screams from racing ambulances, and loud dance music pulsates throughout the space, dominating the soundscape. Ouch!

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

And what a shame, as the food is really good, the space is attractive, and Empire Diner is a reminder of Chelsea’s not so distant past, when it was very gay and glam. Yes, Chelsea wasn’t very quiet back in the day, but we don’t recall racing through a meal to get out before our ears exploded, either.

That said, the main room and outdoor eating were uncomfortably loud, but there was a room further in the diner that was quiet.  It was also empty.  Unclear if it would remain quiet as it fills up with spill over from the main space.  So, sadly, we must suggest you avoid Empire Diner, unless, that is, you don’t mind dining while wearing noise-cancelling headphones.

HOURS

8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. every day

LOCATION

Avenue (at the corner of 22nd Street), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Empire Diner